A child weighing 2,960 grams was born on Tuesday, April 9, at a hospital in Athens after his mother underwent an assisted reproductive technique that uses the DNA of three people, according to Spanish and Greek researchers. it's a statement. After four failures with the usual strategies, the specialists used the ovule of a donor, removed the nucleus, placed a core of the sterile mother, inseminated it and implanted the embryo in the uterus. It is the first time in history that this technique is used to solve fertility problems, but it was already used by US researchers in Mexico in 2016 to prevent a Jordanian woman transmitted to his son a rare hereditary genetic disease.
Each person has an operating manual of two meters in length and 3,000 million letters folded incredibly in the nucleus of each of their cells. But, besides, outside the nucleus there are more instructions, the so-called mitochondrial DNA, formed by only 16,569 letters. That is the genetic contribution of the donor woman to the newborn child in Athens. "We make kids like their dad and their mom, we do not pretend to do anything else. We make mothers can have children genetically theirs, "explains the embryologist Gloria Calderón (Barcelona, 1959), who has participated in this scientific milestone together with specialists from the Greek fertility clinic Institute of Life.
It is the first time in history that this technique is used to solve fertility problems
Calderón is co-founder, together with the Portuguese biologist Nuno Costa-Borges, Embryotools, the Spanish company that has developed the technique in its headquarters of the Parc Científic de Barcelona. The Greek Government has been the first to authorize the use of this new strategy. Calderón asks that these children not be called "babies of three parents," a term that he considers "confusing and sensationalist." The embryologist already participated in 1984 at the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona at the birth of Victoria Anna Sánchez, the first child conceived by in vitro fertilization in Spain. "The press started calling them test tube babies and people thought we had children for nine months in a tube," he jokes over the phone.
The mother of the Greek baby, 32, is well and will appear before the media next week, according to Calderón. There is another pregnant woman of nine weeks thanks to the same technique – known as maternal spindle transfer – and eight other embryos generated and ready to be implanted. The Spanish scientist is aware that the strategy has detractors. "There are people who see moral or ethical problems in this new technique, but the second pregnant girl in Greece had already 11 previous cycles of in vitro fertilization without achieving pregnancy. We work with the ovules. If the technique does not work out well, we can not create the embryo, "he argues.
The expert in bioethics Iñigo de Miguel, from the University of the Basque Country, warns that "although it seems safe, every new technique carries risks". In his opinion, the question to be asked is "to what extent is it worth risking the risk just to perpetuate some genes, when there are alternatives, such as the use of donated eggs" without modifying them to introduce the nuclear DNA of the mother. "There is a question that worries almost everyone: the ignorance of the possible harmful effects of the technique on the creature."
"There is a disturbing question: the ignorance of the possible harmful effects", warns the bioethicist Íñigo de Miguel
The first girl with DNA from three people, Emma Ott, was born in 1997 in the USA, after her mother, with fertility problems, volunteered for a simpler experimental intervention: the injection of cytoplasm (the part of the ovule that surrounds the nucleus) of another woman into her own cytoplasm . "The technique has been banned in the US since 2000 as a precaution with the amount of mitochondrial DNA injected, and our technique is safer and much more complicated to carry out," says Calderón.
In Spain, Law 14/2006 on techniques of assisted human reproduction does not include the transfer of maternal spindle in its list of authorized practices. Calderón explains that, when they finish their study with 25 women in Greece, they will submit a request to the National Commission of Assisted Human Reproduction, under the Ministry of Health, to try to offer this service in Spain.
"Today, for the first time in the world, the inalienable right of a woman to be a mother with her own genetic material has become true," Greek physician Panagiotis Psathas, of the Institute of Life clinic, said in a statement. For Nuno Costa-Borges, "it's a revolution".